The KTM Factory Racing rally team will welcome a high-profile ‘rookie’ during the coming weeks with MotoGP star and Grand Prix winner Danilo Petrucci set to swap his KTM RC16 for a KTM 450 RALLY in an attempt to take on the famous and notoriously difficult Dakar Rally in January.
The speed is still high, the adrenaline still pumping – even protection like airbags remain in place – but the 31-year-old Italian will be exchanging a visor for goggles, and knee sliders for knee braces when he converts to a rally bike in Tech3 KTM Factory Racing colors for 2022.
Petrucci, who has accumulated 10 podium finishes and two wins in his 10 seasons on the MotoGP grid, will fulfil a lifetime dream with the transition into the next stage of his elite racing career after the season-closing Gran Premio Motul de la Comunitat Valenciana. ‘Petrux’ is a skilled offroad rider in enduro and motocross but knows the discipline and demands of the rally will be a big challenge.
Learning from some of the most successful racers in the sport, and experts from the KTM squad that has previously won an outstanding 18 successive Dakar victories, Danilo has begun his rally preparation as he embarks on the challenge of a switch from MotoGP to the Dakar. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s 2018 Dakar winner and recently crowned FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Champion Matthias Walkner, two-time Dakar champion Toby Price, and reigning Dakar champion Kevin Benavides will be on-hand in the KTM stable to help the MotoGP star make his transition to the sport.
Danilo has had a taste of desert conditions aboard his KTM 450 RALLY and the incredibly challenging navigation required for rally racing at a recent test under the watchful eye of KTM’s Rally Sport Manager, Jordi Viladoms – a former successful Dakar competitor.
The 2022 edition of the competition will take place in the Middle East for the third year in a row and will allow Petrucci to be thrown into the depths of Dakar to learn and develop with an eye on the 2022 FIM competition and a potential future in the sport.